Everyone’s been on edge for about a month now, just waiting for Google’s Penguin update that’s been promised to happen. Every time a little hiccup in the rankings show up, people are moaning, “Penguin! Penguin!” We had a day like that early in the week that looked like it might be the real thing, but in my opinion, it’s not. I know it’s not for two specific reasons.
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On January 10, almost every site across the board had a mysterious dip, dropping 10 to 20 spots in the Google rankings, then back up again on the same day. The recovery landed sites almost exactly where they started, although some improved when it was all settled. That across-the-board action had everyone convinced it was finally the Penguin update happening.
The first reason I know that’s not true is that Google updates don’t act like that. After a shake-up of rankings, every site would raise or lower to a different degree, instead of an almost identical curve in the graph. A Penguin update is a refocusing Google takes when it looks closer for spammy sites, so it should treat every site a little differently.
Also, when all the sites dropped, they all rose back up again just as far. I did a search through a variety of sites and found that some of the websites that ended up in the top five were complete spam blogs, written only to grab links. Penguin’s designed to shake out spam sites and leave the quality information, so this is the exact opposite of the result the new update would create.
Yes, Penguin’s still due to update, and you still should have gotten rid of the spammy links on your site already. It’s going to happen, but this event wasn’t it. Google readjusted itself, but there’s more to come.
Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.